Clarence Pier

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Clarence Pier
LocationPortsmouth, England
Operating seasonMarch to Late October
Total12 (14 including Golf and Solent Wheel)
Roller coasters2
Water rides0
Clarence Pier.

Clarence Pier is an amusement pier in Portsmouth, Hampshire. It is located next to Southsea Hoverport. Unlike most seaside piers in the UK, the pier does not extend very far out to sea and instead goes along the coast.

The pier was originally constructed and opened in 1861 by the Prince and Princess of Wales[1] and boasted a regular ferry service to the Isle of Wight. It was damaged by air raids during World War II and was reopened in its current form on 1 June 1961 after being rebuilt by local architects A.E. Cogswell & Sons and R. Lewis Reynish.[2][3]

The main entrance to the pier from the road is via a striking pavilion building with distinctive yellow and blue cladding and a small tower. This originally housed an amusement arcade and cafe although in more recent years, the upper floor has variously been used for "Pirate Pete's" indoor children's playground, a Wimpy bar while the 'Golden Horseshoe' amusement arcade and Coffee Cup (originally a prize bingo hall) remain on the ground floor.

A smaller building, perpendicular but not physically joined to the main pavilion houses another amusement arcade, the "Clarence Pier" (Originally called "Wheel Of Fortune") and some small gift shops. The upper floor was originally used as a public house, but it was later converted into 'Jurassic 3001', a futuristic dinosaur themed dark ride, which opened in 1995. The ride's exterior featured an animatronic triceratops, whose head protruded from the side of the building and roared occasionally at passers-by. The attraction closed in 2001, yet all ride signage and theming on the building remained until the end of 2011. The upper floor space previously occupied by this ride underwent a conversion to apartments, according to planning publications, in 2012.

A building at the side of the funfair houses an arcade called "Games Wharf" and "The Boat House" (originally another Coffee Cup).

The main funfair operates on a free admission, pay-per-ride token-based system. In the early 1980s, the amusement park was named "Fun Acres" and as well as the whole pier itself, it also took up 3500 sq metres of land or so to the north-west of the northern part of the pier. This part of the park was cleared and redeveloped as another arcade called "Southsea Island Leisure", The Clarence Pier Public House, a crazy golf course and a Premier Inn during the 1990s, therefore the park itself is significantly smaller than it used to be. The old part of the park contained the 56-seat Corbiere Spherical Ferris Wheel[4] and a ghost train among other attractions. The token booths were shaped as mushrooms.

The pier viewed from gosport
Clarence Pier Portsmouth June 2018

One of the main landmarks of Clarence Pier until the mid-1990s was the Super Loop ride, since removed. The Ferris wheel was sold and relocated to Pleasureland Southport.[5] One ride which lasted the duration and remains to this day is the Skyways roller coaster. A new addition to the pier is a pirate-themed crazy golf course situated behind the Clarence Pier arcade.

"Mind the Baby, Mr. Bean", an episode of British TV comedy series "Mr. Bean" was filmed on location at Clarence Pier (as well as other locations in Southsea) and aired on ITV in 1994. This was prior to the closure of the north-western part of the park and the closure of the Wheel Of Fortune public house. The episode shows the Super Loop, Skyways roller coaster, and many of the park's other attractions from that time. Clarence Pier was also the filming location to the teen pop band, "S Club Juniors" song, "Fool No More" filmed mainly on the dodgems but the rollercoaster, 'Skyways' can also be seen in the video.


     Roller Coasters
     Water Rides
     Dark Rides


Name Opened Description
Mad Mouse 2019 A Cyclon coaster manufactured by SBF Visa Group. It is a similar coaster model to the Galaxi Coaster Skyways.
Tidal Wave 2019 An MX 611 Spinning Coaster manufactured by SBF Visa Group.
Solent Wheel 2016 A 110 ft Ferris Wheel built by Technical Park. The wheel contains 24 carriages (including a V.I.P. Carriage) which could sit up to 6 people (V.I.P. carridge could sit up to 4 people) however it was separate administration from the park. Park Tokens were accepted. The Wheel was removed in the same year it opened due to the fears that Brent Geese could accidentally fly into it. The Solent Wheel returned for the 2018 season.
Pirate Golf Early 2000's A pirate themed mini golf course, it is separate administration than the rest of the park.
Sky Trail/Pier Pressure 2011 A High Ropes Course.
Twister 2004 A modern version of a traditional Twister Ride. 3 people can sit per car with a total of 12 cars. Built by Sonacase. For the 2019 Season, this ride is now enclosed.
Waltzer 1982 A traditional Waltzer, built by Maxwell of Scotland. Replaced an older version. It was known as Power Spin 2000 until 2003. For the 2019 season, the ride was refurbished with new imagery and LED lights.
Dodgems 2001 a traditional Bumper Cars ride. Up to 1 or 2 people can fit per car.
Flying Dumbos 2015 A flying elephants ride built by Kolmax-Plus.
Carousel 1998 A modern version of a traditional Carousel, built by J.H. Rundle. It replaced an older set. It was refurbished for the 2019 season.
Circus Train 2016 A Juvenile train ride with a locomotive and three carriages. This is the first ride at the pier to be operated via a remote control unit, carried by the person operating the ride.
Air Balloon Ride 2011 A flying and spinning ride themed as balloons.
Balloon Wheel 2010 a Ferris Wheel themed as Balloons.
Toy Carousel 2016 A mini Carousel ride.

Temporary Closure[edit]

Name Opened Description
Skyways 1980 An S.D.C. Galaxi Roller Coaster which replaced a wooden wild mouse roller coaster. The ride featured in a Mr Bean comedy sketch. The coaster has been dismantled in 2018 for a major refurbishment. Although the ride was thought to return, it is unknown whether this will happen or not as a spokesman for Clarence Pier claimed the new Mad Mouse Roller Coaster was a permanent feature.

Former Attractions[edit]

Name First Season Final Season Manufacturer Description
Crazy Slide 2017 2018 An inflatable slide. It was removed in 2018.
Flying Planes 2018 2018 A small Aeroplane ride that moves in a circle, and has a Disney Planes theme. As with Happy Catapilla, it was on loan from an independent operator.
Pirate Castle 2016 2018 An inflatable castle, located under Skytrail. It was removed in 2018.
Happy Catapilla 2018 2018 A Wacky Worm Roller Coaster in place of Skyways after it was sent away to be refurbished. It was on loan from Manchester-based independent operator Paul Hart. In 2019, it was moved to the nearby South Parade Pier.
Tea Cups Unknown 2017 A small Teacups ride with 5 cups seating up to four children each. This set underwent a major renovation for the 2016 season with the addition of Disney artwork.
Speedy Gonzales/Speedy Coaster 2011 2017 D.P. V Rides A Junior Coaster themed as the Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzales. In was removed from the Pier after the 2017 season and was relocated to Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, near Newcastle, where it was it was given a new lick of paint.
Blade Runner 2015/2017 2015/2017 Safeco A Breakdance ride. It is owned by independent operator Ryan McCole who originally sited the ride at the pier for the 2015 season. The ride re-appeared for the 2017 season as a replacement for the Solent Wheel.
Flying Kiddie Cars 2015 2015 A spinning car ride which was located next to the Blade Runner breakdance. It was owned by Ryan McCole who sat this ride in the pier for the 2015 season.
Formula 2000 2002 2015 A small Convoy Ride where a train of cars goes along a small circuit with a bridge. It was removed at the end of the 2015 season to make way for the Solent Wheel.
Swing Tower 2013 2014 AK Rides A mini Vertical Swing ride. Was replaced by the "Blade Runner" Breakdance for the 2015 season.
Extreme Rotor 2011 2013 A Rotor. Previous Rotor rides have operated on site at the pier.
Toon Town Express unknown 2012 A rotating train ride.
Mega Dance 2012 2012 Fabbri Group An Orbiter (ride) ride. Was replaced with Swing Tower in 2013. Previously operated at Pleasurewood Hills.
Jets 2010 2011 A mini jet ride with a Buzz Lightyear theme. It was located near Skyways for the 2010 season, and for the 2011 season was located near the Toy Town Train Ride. This ride was also replaced with the Mega Dance in 2012.
Toy Town Train Ride 2010 2011 A train ride with a Disney theme. It replaced Cyclone and was replaced with Mega Dance in 2012.
Disk-O 2005 2010 Zamperla A Disko Ride. The ride was removed at the end of the 2010 season and the Dodgems have moved into the Disk-O's place. Was exported to Australia, but has since returned to the U.K. at Brean Leisure Park.
The Cyclone 2007 2009 Moser Rides An Extraordinary Bike ride, where the looping gondola's are controlled by the riders' pedals. It was replaced with a Train Ride in 2010.
Tri-Star 2009 2009 Fairmatt A Troika (ride). It had replaced The Extreme for the 2009 season and was replaced by the Balloon Wheel in 2010.
Wild River 1998 2009 Reverchon Industries A standard 2-drop Log Flume. The ride was removed at the end of 2009.
Extreme 2007 2008 Tivoli UK An Orbiter (ride). It replaced Power Tower for 2007 and was owned by an independent operator. Replaced by the Tri-Star in 2009.
Power Tower 2002 2006 Moser Rides A Drop Tower, which was at one point the tallest spring tower ride in Europe. Was replaced by The Extreme in 2007.
Paratrooper 1976 2004 Ivan Bennett A traditional Paratrooper (ride). It was removed at the end of the 2004 Season after 28 years and the Twister was moved to where this was.[6]
The Bounce 2003 2003 A Jump and Smile ride. It was replaced by the current Twister in 2004.
Grand National 2003 2003 A ride where riders ride on horse themed cars around a guided track. After its removal the location where it was remained empty until Wild River moved into the space in 2005 when the Disk'O was added.
Wave Rave 1996 2002 Keith Emmett A Miami ride. It replaced and was part-exchanged for the Rainbow ride.[7]
It's A Small World 2002 2002 Ronnie Bentley A Dark Ride which took guests through various scenes of different countries around the world. The ride is unrelated to the Disney ride of the same name, it was similar to former The Greatest Show on Earth ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and had teacup styled cars. This ride was relocated from Harbour Park.
Dodgems 1993 2001 Lang Wheels A traditional Dodgem track which replaced an earlier set. Was relocated to Symonds Yat Holiday Park with a newer set taking its place.
Jumping Star 1990's 2001 Zamperla A junior drop tower.[8]
Magic Ring 1990's 2001 Zamperla A juvenile car ride.
Monster Express 1996 2001 ITAL International A small Ghost Train. Now travels the U.K. fairground circuit.
Mini Octopus unknown 2001 Minari A junior Octopus ride.
Jungle Train unknown 2001 Falgas A juvenile train ride.
Jurassic 3001 1995 2001 ITAL International A Dark Ride themed on the premise of dinosaurs returning from extinction in the year 3001. (Also referred to as 'Jurassic 3001 A.D.' on ride signage). This was housed on the second floor of the Wheel of Fortune (Now Clarence Pier) arcade. The facade included a robotic triceratops that roared at guests passing by. The ride closed in 2001, but all theming remained on the building until 2012. The space where the attraction used to be is now a storage room.
Twister 2001 2001 KT Enterprises A modern version of a traditional Twist (ride). It was on hire from an independent operator for the 2001 season and was later replaced with a near-identical model.[9]
The Big Wheel 1964 2000 Corbiere A 56-seat Corbiere Spherical Ferris Wheel. Built on the north-east area of Clarence Pier, between the Dodgems arena and the Carousel. Sold to a private owner, and later sited at Pleasureland Southport in 2005. The former Big Wheel site was then used for the mini golf course.[10]
Scrambler 1982 2000 Eli Bridge Company A traditional Twist (ride), it was replaced with a more modern Twister ride. Imported from the U.S.A.
Gallopers 1954 1997 Frederick Savage A traditional Gallopers ride. Built on the north-east side of Clarence Pier, between the Big Wheel and the Ghost Train. Replaced in 1998 with a brand new model with a striped canopy, this ride itself replaced an older Gallopers set.[11]
Ghost Train 1950 1995 Orton & Spooner A traditional ghost train (Dark Ride). Built on the north-east end of Clarence Pier. Removed and replaced with the mini golf course.[12]
Rainbow 1993 1995 HUSS Park Attractions A Rainbow (ride), previously located at Pleasureland Southport and Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Was part-exchanged for the Wave Rave Miami ride, which replaced it in 1996.
Jets 1966 1993 Lang Wheels A traditional Jets ride, where riders can control the height of their individual jets. Originally built for the Webber Brothers at Ocean Beach, Rhyl.[13]
Meteor 1980 1993 Cadoxton Engineering A traditional Round Up (ride). Relocated to Butlin's Minehead[14]
Orbiter 1988 1993 Tivoli UK An Orbiter (ride), previously located at Ocean Beach, Rhyl. Operated for a couple of seasons on Brighton seafront following its removal from Clarence Pier.[15]
Super Loop 1984 1990s Larson International An imported Super Loops (Fire Ballride.
Tip Top 1993 1993 Tivoli UK A Tip Top/Force 10 ride. Operated on Brighton seafront for a couple of seasons following its removal. Currently travels the U.K. fairground circuit.
Topsy Turvey 1987 1993 Reverchon A Matterhorn (ride), previously located at Botton's Pleasure Beach Skegness. Upon leaving the park, the ride spent the 1994 season at Tramore Amusement Park in Ireland, followed by 2 seasons on Brighton seafront. The ride now travels in the U.K.
Dodgems c.1950s 1992 A traditional Dodgem track Built on the north-central area of Clarence Pier, between the Slide (later, the Meteor) and the Big Wheel. Removed and replaced with the Premier Inn hotel. Replaced with a different track in 1993.
Santa Maria 1985 1988 Anton Schwarzkopf A rare Santa Maria ride - Schwarzkopf's version of a Pirate Ship (ride). Operated previously in Germany.
Lightning Swirl 1948 1987 R.J. Lakin A traditional Swirl/Skid ride, where riders control the spin of their car using a pedal. The ride was scrapped at the end of 1987 due to its age.[16]
Satellite 1983 Chance Rides A traditional Trabant/Satellite ride with basic decoration, imported from the U.S.A.[17]
Walt's Waltzer 1964 1981 Maxwell A traditional Waltzer ride, replacing an earlier version and itself being replaced with a newer model. The ride later appeared at Ramsgate Amusement Park, Cosgrove Park (Milton Keynes) and since 2011 has been sited at New Brighton, Merseyside.[18]
Steam Yachts 1979 William Cartwright A traditional Steam Yachts ride, originally built in 1888.
Wild Mouse 1960 1979 Maxwell A Wooden Wild Mouse roller coaster. Was moved to Funland (Hayling Island) at the end of 1979, and was replaced with "Skyways". Parts of the ride were later used to construct David Pickstone's Wild Mouse at Brean Leisure Park in 1988.[19]
Coronation Ark 1944 1978 R.J. Lakin A traditional Ark ride, originally built in 1937. Was relocated to Joyland Arcade in Bridlington, where it operated only briefly.[20]
Rodeo Switchback 1947 1972 Frederick Savage A traditional Gondola Switchback, originally built around 1880. The ride was later sold to Six Flags Great Adventure in the U.S.A., before being re-imported in 1982. The ride is now preserved at Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre.[21]
Calypso 1965 1970 Lang Wheels A Calypso ride, originally built for showman Side Stocks in 1961. Upon leaving the park the ride went back onto the travelling fair circuit. It was later scrapped.[22]
Moonrocket 1962 1960s R.J. Lakin & Maxwell The third of three Moonrocket rides to operate at the park. The ride previously operated under the ownership of Gordon Codona at Redcar Amusement Park, and the Webber Brothers at Ocean Beach, Rhyl. The ride was for sale in 1968, and presumably scrapped.
Octopus 1961 Lusse A traditional Octopus ride. An identical model of the same ride type operated at the park until 1950.[23]
Rotor 1960 1968 (Rebuilt by Maxwell) A traditional Rotor (sticky wall) ride, thought to originate from mainland Europe, and refitted by Scottish firm Maxwell. The ride was listed for sale in 1969.
Whirlaround 1959 1965 Edwin Hall A traditional Twist (ride) - the first of its type in the U.K. It was sold to travelling showman Bernard Cole in 1966, and then later to Jimmy Rogers. More modern models of the same ride type would operate at the park years later.[24]
Chair-O-Plane 1940s 1964 (German) A traditional Chair-O-Plane ride, replacing a similar model in either 1947 or 1948.
Walt's Waltzer 1959 1963 Maxwell The first of three Waltzer rides to operate at the park. The ride was named after its owner Walter Shufflebottom. The ride went on to have a long career, with spells at Butlin's Pwllheli, Clacton Pier, Canvey Island Amusement Park and Killarney Springs. It was scrapped in October 2007.[25]
Devil's Chute 1951 1959 Orton & Spooner An early version of a Wooden Wild Mouse roller coaster. Was replaced by the "Wild Mouse" in 1960.[26]

Ferris wheel proposals [edit]

The Solent Eye Ferris wheel was proposed by Billy Manning Ltd[27] for Clarence Pier in 2007.[28] On 17 October, permission for a 130-foot tall (40 m) wheel was granted,[29] but two days later it was revealed that Portsmouth City Councillors wished the wheel was bigger. As a result, the original plans, which were for a 180-foot tall (55 m) wheel, were revived[30] and conditional planning permission subsequently granted on 19 December 2007.[31] It was expected to cost £2 million.[27] The plans were scrapped because the wheel was too large. In 2015, a revived plan for a 110 ft wheel was sent. It was approved and opened in Easter 2016. Despite the popularity of the wheel, it was confirmed in September 2016 that the Solent Wheel will be taken down and sent elsewhere, which was later revealed to be Ireland. In March 2017, Clarence Pier's website was updated to say that the wheel would return in 2018. The wheel still stands on Clarence Pier as of 2019.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Bounds, Jon; Smith, Danny (11 February 2016). Pier Review: A Road Trip in Search of the Great British Seaside. ISBN 9781783727513.
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  4. ^ Richard's Big wheel
  5. ^ Ferris wheel
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  26. ^
  27. ^ a b BBC - Hampshire - How We Built Britain - Making its mark
  28. ^ Shrunken Solent Eye could open on prom The News 16 October 2007
  29. ^ Seafront wheel gets go-ahead – with one regret The News 2007-10-18, Dan Kerins
  30. ^ Eye turnaround as original bid revived The News 2007-10-19, Sue Wade
  31. ^ Construction of 50m diameter free standing wheel ride Archived 29 September 2011 at the UK Government Web Archive Portsmouth City Council online 2007-12-19, Development Control Committee

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°47.164′N 1°06.068′W / 50.786067°N 1.101133°W / 50.786067; -1.101133